“A man is a god in ruins” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
Kate Atkinson won the Costa Novel Award 2013 for Life After Life about the lives (yes, lives) of Ursula Todd. In 2015 she won it again with A God in Ruins, about the life of Teddy Todd, Ursula’s younger brother.
Having read and enjoyed Life After Life (reviewed earlier on this blog), I was looking forward to reading this companion book. Was I expecting too much? Life After Life set the bar pretty high. Whatever the reason, A God in Ruins was a pleasant enough read on the whole but apart from the story of Teddy’s WWII fighter-pilot heroics I found it a little, well, dull at times. The ending, though, made up for sticking with it. Atkinson saved her best for the third to last chapter (page 511 in my Black Swan paperback)!
If you’ve read Life After Life already, then give A God In Ruins a whirl. If you haven’t, try that first, or read her 1995 Whitbread Book of the Year Award winning Behind the Scenes at the Museum. Both are more consistently interesting reads. But if you’re as good a novelist as Atkinson it must be hard to keep outdoing yourself each time you write!
Rating: ** Worth reading (especially for the pay-off in that third to last chapter)